If you're using a debit card in a store, the funds will typically come out of your checking account, not your savings account. You may be able to use the card at an ATM to get money out of your savings account, however. Some banks have accounts called money market accounts that function like a savings account and pay high interest, but also have checks and debit cards.
Typically, debit card transactions are attached to your checking account, not your savings account.
Debit Card Buying
When you go to a store, visit a restaurant or buy something online using your debit card, the money is withdrawn from your bank account to pay for the purchase. Debit cards linked to checking accounts are quite common and are now a standard feature of checking accounts at many banks, but debit cards pulling money from savings accounts are essentially unheard of.
Part of the reason for this is that federal rules limit your savings account transactions to just six per month, making savings accounts impractical for frequent, everyday purposes. If you want to spend money that's in your savings account using your debit card, it's often easiest to first transfer it to your checking account linked to a debit card, which many banks will enable you to do online or over the phone.
Some banks have overdraft protection features that will automatically move money from your savings account to your checking account if you spend more than you have in your checking account, though fees can apply, so it's best to understand your bank's policies if you plan to use such a feature.
If you have a checking account and a savings account at the same bank, and you have a debit card linked to that checking account, you may also be able to use it at an ATM to withdraw money from your savings account. Often, after you insert your card and enter your PIN to log in to the ATM, it will ask you whether you want to process a transaction from your checking or savings account.
As with any ATM transactions, your bank and the owner of the ATM both may charge you to withdraw money from your savings account, so make sure you understand the policies in place before making such a transaction.
Money Market Accounts
Some banks offer specialized accounts called money market accounts that function a bit like savings accounts and a bit like checking accounts while paying relatively high interest.
Generally you're limited to six transactions per month from these accounts, which is similar to a savings account, but they often do come with debit cards you can use in stores and at ATMs. Some even come with checks you can use to pay bills and make purchases. Some have minimum deposits, below which they may pay less interest or even charge you a monthly fee.
- Digital Federal Credit Union: About Debit Cards, ATM Cards, and ATMs
- Associated Bank: Frequently Asked Questions
- Free Credit Report: Can You Get a Debit Card For a Savings Account?
- MyBankTracker: Can You Get a Debit Card on a Savings Account?
- TD Bank: Can I Get a Debit Card if I Have a Savings Account?
- NerdWallet: Best Money Market Account Rates 2018
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "CFPB Finds Small Debit Purchases Lead to Expensive Overdraft Charges." Accessed Aug. 15, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Checklist for Opening a Bank or Credit Union Account," Page 1. Accessed Aug. 15, 2020.
Steven Melendez is an independent journalist with a background in technology and business. He has written for a variety of business publications including Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Innovation Leader and Ad Age. He was awarded the Knight Foundation scholarship to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.